When Chinese President Xi Jinping talked about strengthening “democracy” in a speech to Australian parliament in 2014, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was so floored he praised Xi extensively.
Of course, when 2015 came along China kept shutting down protests and arresting activists, including five feminists in one high-profile case who were imprisoned for a month for trying to pass out information about sexual harassment. This is the language in an authoritarian regime that continues to insist it is advancing down the path of communism by implementing market reforms.
Thus it was at a “safe place” on the University of Missouri campus that a journalist was assaulted while trying to photograph a public protest. Universities are becoming more threatening for students, professors, public intellectuals, and free thinkers, but it is the politically correct social-justice fascists who are the most to blame.
That ‘Dimwit White Person’
At universities from coast to coast, speakers have been silenced, films have been banned, and student journalists have been cowed or fired. Just Google “Bill Maher” or “Ayaan Hirsi Ali.” One liberal professor even wrote at Vox (under a pseudonym) that he was “scared of his liberal students.” And he has good reason to be. After the administrators at Mizzou were forced out, professor Dale Brigham resigned for planning to hold exams as usual despite a racist shooting threat posted to a social network. The poster has since been arrested.
One activist (who referred to Brigham as a “dimwit white peon”) was quite clear about intents to start a social media mob: “I have over 185,000+ followers on the social network Vine, and I will be posting your email … If you continue to express opposition you WILL BE EXTORTED OF YOUR FUCKING CAREER.” (Where’s the United Nations to talk about online intimidation now?)
This controversy over exams reflects that after Officer Darren Wilson was not indicted in the shooting death of Michael Brown (a decision that a review by the Obama Justice Department found to be the right one), students at Oberlin, Georgetown, and Cornell Law School tried to get exams canceled or delayed. Indeed, according to a timeline created by Slate, the Missouri protests started after the shooting. Protesting at a university over an unrelated shooting that ended up being non-criminal (though many still cling to the unsubstantiated “hands up” narrative) makes little sense, but neither does calling for the university president’s dismissal because of individual student actions.
There Is No ‘Discourse’ on Campus
When two Mizzou students spread cotton balls in front of the black student center in 2010, they were arrested and suspended. The university took action. Contrast that with the University of Michigan’s lack of major response to the vandalism of the apartment of a columnist who mocked PC culture, done by the same left-wing activist who called for banning the showing of “American Sniper.”
If student journalists don’t feel free to express their thoughts on complex issues, where will the next generation of journalists come from? Will those whose views are at odds with the party line be cowed into silence or decide not to pursue it? How will student newspapers be able to cover issues fairly knowing that the student government might cut their funding, as happened to the Wesleyan University student paper?
The PC paramilitary police aren’t just after student journalists. They do the same to professional pundits. Sam Harris says discussions about Islam are being stifled.
The effects of trigger warnings and the limiting of teaching materials aren’t just being felt in academia—where, according to The Atlantic, law school professors are apprehensive about teaching rape law lest a student thinks it will trigger someone—it could also cause mental health problems for the students themselves, who are conditioned to feel distressed for every “microaggression.”
Feelings Versus Free Speech
Free speech, free press, respect for opposing opinions, stringent academic standards, straightforward language, and primacy of the truth are all necessary ingredients for a strong democracy.
The very reason students can protest their administration is that they enjoy free speech rights—rights that should apply to their opponents as well as to them. When someone else’s feelings are given primacy over another’s freedom of speech, you deny that person’s rights.
When feelings are given primacy over facts, there’s no way to evaluate the truth, which is necessary for making sound policy. How can one say Donald Trump is wrong that Mexico is “sending” the United States illegal immigrants if the truth doesn’t matter now? And didn’t he “feel” offended when Rich Lowry said Carly Fiorina emasculated him? Why not call for Lowry’s firing or a Federal Communications Commission fine?
When “safe spaces” are places where pushing and verbal abuse take place, when reality is based on the race, gender, or sexuality of a speaker, when words like “rich,” “poor,” “senior,” and “American” are considered “problematic,” reality ceases to exist and words have no meanings.
The biggest problem with PC culture is it destroys the basis for a functioning democracy.